The Orchard Christian Church

The Orchard Christian Church__________ "where Fruit of the Spirit grows"____________________________ north Montebello ______________ Matthew & Kumi Perri

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The hardest words to say

When I was studying at Dallas Theological Seminary, I remember people quoting this saying: “You can always tell a Dallas grad, but you can’t tell him much.” Maybe this saying tends to apply to me, and also my brothers the Calvary Chapel pastors, or other Born-again Spirit-filled Christian believers like me who believe in the inerrancy of the 66 books of the Bible and teach it verse by verse. I think the saying would also apply to the Pharisees, of whom the apostle Paul was one.

We are in agreement about the inerrancy of Scripture; God, Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and Holy Spirit; faith in Jesus as the only way of salvation by grace, the realities of heaven and hell, in the beginning God created us male and female, all the teachings of the Bible, including everything that Paul taught others to do; The Gospels, most of the other New Testament books, and the entire Old Testament. So what don’t we agree on?

The interpretation and application of the apostle Paul’s personal life, ministry, and comments about himself in the inerrant Bible record of 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and the second half of Acts. If Paul, (or Jesus or another author of Scripture) clearly teaches one thing, but the Scripture clearly shows that Paul did the opposite, I believe that Paul’s action was wrong. Paul didn’t always practice what he preached. That should not surprise us, because none of us do perfectly, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The “traditional” interpretation in most American Evangelical circles now is, essentially, that none of Paul’s mistakes or sins are revealed in Scripture. Traditionalists will say, “we should be like Paul” without examining his life, because if Paul did it, he must have had a good reason, he was the world’s greatest missionary, he wrote most of the New Testament, he suffered a lot for the Gospel, etc. I admit that it is easier to teach Paul’s life as if it was the perfect life of Jesus- but we are called to be Christians, not Paulists. We should try to be like Jesus- He is the center.

What are the hardest words to say? “Maybe I was wrong.” In my zeal for the Word of God, maybe I was trying too much to “be like Paul” instead of trying to be like Jesus. God and His Word have not changed, and my beliefs and opinions about God and His Word have not changed- but my opinions about the apostle Paul have changed. God used Paul mightily in many ways, just as He used Mary, Jonah, Solomon, and others. But Paul wasn’t perfect, he made mistakes, and those mistakes are revealed in Scripture. In the power of the Holy Spirit, who will guide me into all truth, I want to know God and His Word more and more as I follow Jesus every day. I confess that I don’t understand the Bible perfectly, and in this life I never will, but I want to receive God’s truth every day as he reveals his infinite character. I want to be like Jesus.


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